Q&A For Digital Photograhy
This column will attempt to provide solutions to problems readers may have getting into and using digital cameras, scanning, and using digital photographic images with a computer and different kinds of software. All questions sent to me will be answered with the most appropriate information I can access and provide. However, not all questions and answers will appear in this column. Readers can send questions to me addressed to Shutterbug magazine, through the Shutterbug web site, directly via e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org or by US Mail to: PO Box 2830, Lompoc, CA 93438.
Q. I have feet in both the
conventional and digital arenas. I shoot with conventional 35mm and then
transfer selected images to a Photo CD. Once there, Photoshop can perform
its magic. I've tried several labs and find that all CD images need a
20 percent increase in contrast and a 10 percent decrease in brightness
before I begin any other adjustments. My system is calibrated and the
screen and printed output are right on. I find that much of the color
information which exists in a conventional photo print is muddy, or missing
in the CD scan--which requires extra time in Photoshop at some loss of
realism. Will a 35mm film scanner (like the Nikon LS-2000) yield more
accurate color information for a digital file? Are there any tradeoffs
if I go this route? Thank you.
With over 100 Photo CDs I have found LaserSoft SilverFast Photo CD provides an easy to use, efficient, and high quality access to the image information on my discs. You may find the cost of LaserSoft SilverFast Photo CD a rather high price for software, but if you want to obtain full value from your current Photo CDs and also use the medium with full success in the future it is a good investment. I would suggest downloading a trial version of SilverFast Photo CD from the LaserSoft web site at: www.silverfast.com.
Any one of the popular top of the line desktop 35mm film scanners will provide higher resolution digital images from scans, as well as a high level of potential image quality, compared to the Photo CD. Whether you choose Minolta, Nikon, Microtek ArtixScan, or Polaroid, all provide good physical performance. The greatest differences between these scanners is in the effectiveness of the software provided with the scanner by the manufacturer. In addition, many users who demand the best image quality from their scans invest in the extra cost of LaserSoft SilverFast Ai software to drive their scanner.
Q. I am about to purchase
a scanner. In the March 2000 issue you did a test on the Epson 1200U Photo.
I would like to use it, among other things, to make Kodak Photo CDs from
my 35mm transparencies and also to supply some photo stock houses with
my work. Do you think that the quality is good enough for this purpose?
Finally, Kodak Photo CD is a proprietary digital photofinishing service that can be produced only with commercial equipment purchased from Kodak. Individual computer users cannot produce Kodak Photo CDs. However, an individual user can scan film and then record the resulting image files on a CDR disc using a CDR drive connected to their computer. The results are similar and can serve the same basic purpose, but are not the same. In conclusion, if your primary interest is to scan 35mm slides, the best results are obtained from dedicated slide scanners like those made by Nikon, Minolta, Polaroid, and Microtek.
Q. I am considering buying
a scanner for scanning prints and medium format negatives. I would like
to buy a moderately priced scanner, but I am willing to spend more if
it is worth the money. You e-mailed me a few months ago that some new
scanners would be on the market. I see that the Epson 1600 Professional
scanner costs around $1100. I also see that the Epson 1200U scanner costs
around $350 with transparency adapter and it has some of the same specs.
Is it worth the extra money? Is the Epson 1600 Professional one of the
best for the money? Is the Epson 1200U good enough for 98 percent of the
people not to see a difference? Thank you for your reply and help.
On the other hand, a Hasselblad user who is accustomed to getting 8x10 color prints made from the film exposed with his camera, and would be scanning 120 6x6cm film frequently would be more appropriately served by having the Epson Expression 1600 Pro scanner. These two Epson scanners, along with the CanoScan FB 1200, are the first in a new generation of flat-bed scanners providing somewhat more performance for the dollar spent compared to last year's choices. UMAX and Microtek ArtixScan have new models announced or hinted at that will also compete in this new generation of flat-bed scanners.
Q. I have been having my
35mm slides and negs scanned to Kodak Photo CDs for a number of years.
I read with interest your highly favorable evaluation of the CanoScan
The Canon CanoScan FS 2710 will do a better job, at somewhat higher resolution than inexpensive Master Photo CDs. This depends to some extent how much skill a user like yourself develops using the scanner's software to adjust the scans!
Like yourself I have had a liking for the use of high-speed color films for the grain effects they produce. It has been my experience that with the 2700/ 2800dpi maximum optical resolution scanners like the Nikon LS-2000, CanoScan FS 2710, Minolta Dimge Speed, scanning at maximum resolution often causes a conflict between the pixel size produced and the grain. In other words, the grain size and the pixel size are not different enough to clearly distinguish the grain. Since I obtained an ArtixScan 4000t, and now with LaserSoft SilverFast Ai 5 software, the grainy high-speed film scans I've made have been much improved, and the grain is accurately and clearly defined when the film is scanned at 4000dpi.
So, the bottom line is yes, the CanoScan FS 2710 will provide some clear advantages over economy Photo CD scan services. However, to really do grainy films justice in terms of clearly recording the grain accurately, the 4000dpi ArtixScan 4000t and Polaroid SprintScan 4000 are a further advantage, but of course at twice the cost of the CanoScan.
Q. Just a quick note to
compliment you on your coverage of digital imaging issues. I teach Digital
Imaging and Digital Still Photography at a small southwestern college
(University of New Mexico-Gallup). I really look forward to your Q&As
and product reviews. Additionally, I'm really pleased to see you bought
a Mac G3 so that platform gets good coverage, as that's what we use here
at the university. Keep up the good work!
Q. I thought I knew it all
but once again Mr. Gates and Adobe put one over on me. (I'm sure it's
my misunderstanding but how much more satisfying to blame them.) I am
scanning size 120 frames (positives) at 100 percent/1600dpi. That gives
me a certain size file--a fixed total number of pixels in my scan. I save
in Tiff uncompressed. Then I go to Adobe PhotoDeluxe and call up that
Tiff file to work on it. I go to the size dialog box and want to increase
the picture size to 8x10. In my naivet I figure that when I select these
new dimensions in the appropriate spaces, and given that the total number
of pixels in the scan are supposed to be fixed, then the resolution box
will automatically calculate the new dpi to give me the new image size
(roughly 200x160)--but no it insists on keeping the resolution at 1600
so my new file size rises to hundreds of MB. I thought that as long as
re-sample (in PhotoDeluxe there is no obvious place to select or deselect
"re-sample") was not selected the dialog juggles length, width, and dpi
automatically to provide the new image size but always keeps the total
pixel count of the original scanned file the same. So what am I not understanding?
This facility is provided in most image-editing applications, but the method and design of the control dialog may vary. So, pay close attention to all the little check boxes, etc., in a re-sizing dialog. Also, if you are re-sampling, be sure to use SaveAs to save the image file renaming it, so you do not lose your original image, because if you re-size smaller, you'll lose some image data.
Q. I really enjoy your column
and now understand why my inexpensive (Plustek) flat-bed scanner won't
produce quality 35mm scans, since its maximum resolution is only 1200dpi.
With most scanner driver software there are two ways to set up the size and resolution for scanning. One is to leave the image scanned at 100 percent (the actual size of the film frame), and then set the scan resolution, to 1600 for example. The other is to set the scan output for a particular print size and resolution, like 11x14" at 300dpi. This would give you an image magnification of 500 percent in the setup dialog.
Q. I heard that the folks
who developed the Digital ICE program, packaged with some scanners, have
a new product which is capable of restoring faded colors in slides. Can
you tell me if such a program exists or is in development?
Some have asked if Digital ICE is available as a software addition to other scanners. The answer is no, because Digital ICE is both a hardware and software function which must be built into a scanner when it's manufactured.
Q. Is there an easy way
in Photoshop to create a thumbnail of a bunch of pictures for reviewing?
Or is there other software out there that does better?